Cooking shows and books promise the perfect steak in quick and simple recipes, but all too often what you end up with is nothing like what you expected.
Enter Bar + Block, a steakhouse chain which opened its first restaurant in Birmingham in 2016.
The Bar + Block chain, managed by Whitbread, has expanded into several locations in London, opening its Wimbledon branch in February this year.
The restaurant is running a series of steak masterclasses hosted by senior quality and innovation chef Paul Fletcher, and I was lucky enough to be invited to the second session earlier this month.
Complimentary cocktails are always a good sign of things to come, and the evening was no exception, with prosecco shots, a variety of martinis and Bar + Block’s signature Flamingo Punch on offer.
Then it was on to the main event – the masterclass itself.
Paul’s passion for his food was obvious as he talked us through the different cuts of beef, what impacts their quality and how they are best butchered and served.
The amount of information he managed to fit into one half-hour talk, from how even moving cattle impacts their meat quality to the best time to season steaks before cooking, was impressive.
Once our appetites had been thoroughly whetted, we were moved onto the three-course meal that showed off the best Bar + Block Wimbledon had to offer.
The Asian crispy beef and cheese & jalapeno poppers were the first of the shared starters to be polished off by the group at our table, with each bite holding just the right amount of spiciness.
Small bowls of prawns cooking in sauce and BBQ ribs were also quickly wolfed down, the ribs themselves so tender that the meat was practically falling off the bone.
WOLFED DOWN: The prawn starters in sauce
With the bar set high by the starters, the main course had a lot to live up to.
Accompanied by mushrooms and spinach cooked in garlic, and chips that were the perfect mix of crispiness and fluffiness, the steak cuts offered to us – fillet, sirloin and rib-eye – met the high standards set by the starters.
Unfortunately, our group were unlucky to have some sliced fillet which was a little on the well-done side, which made it quite tough to eat.
MAIN EVENT: The evening was informative and delivered with passion
And while the peppercorn and bearnaise sauces were delicious, the chimichurri had a slick of oil on the surface which made getting to the main substance underneath difficult.
But those are quibbles, and the trio of desserts made up for them.
While not many of us were keen on the coffee crème brûlée, finding it a little too bitter, the chocolate brownie and mixed berry pavlova hit the spot.
THE MAGIC NUMBER: The trio of desserts hit the spot
If that wasn’t enough, throughout the whole evening we were treated to wine pairings from E & J Gallo, a California-based family-run company.
Not only were their tips and notes on the wines as informative as the steak masterclass, it has also made me a convert of Apothic, a red wine with vanilla notes made from a blend of different grapes.
Despite some hiccups, the Bar + Block masterclasses are a must for anyone who loves food and wants to learn how not to make mis-steaks in the kitchen.